Ahead of this year’s Budget statement in March, UKHospitality has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlining the additional action needed to accelerate the revival of the UK’s hospitality sector, slash unemployment and bring the whole nation together.
In order to ensure the early, rapid return to growth of as many hospitality businesses as possible, it says the Government must extend the VAT cut to 5% for a further 12 months, and ensure it applies across the broad hospitality sector, to stimulate economic activity; and enact a further business rates holiday for hospitality for 2021/22 to protect communities and repair businesses.
The trade body adds that if the sector is to drive investment in communities and provide employment around the UK to its full potential, then further support will also be needed.
UKHospitality is therefore urging the Government to use the forthcoming Budget to announce additional support to safeguard businesses and jobs.
This includes implementing a reformed Job Retention Bonus to allow continued investment in the sector's workforce; extending the repayment period for all Government-backed loans to 10 years, with an extra interest-free year; deferring tax payments further, to December 2021, to allow full trading before debts to Government fall due; extending the furlough scheme until the end of June; and assisting the hospitality supply chain so it can support the sector’s recovery.
“The Budget provides the Government with a fantastic opportunity to deliver a bold package of support to tee hospitality businesses up for a year of rebuilding," says Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive.
“Some businesses have inevitably and sadly gone to the wall, and we have lost around 650,000 jobs. Thankfully, many more businesses have managed to adapt and are still managing to cling on, keeping jobs safe and giving their staff, customers and communities hope that they will be able to reopen once the vaccine roll-out makes it safe to do so.
“Government financial support has been key - the two principal pillars of support, slashing hospitality VAT to 5% and providing a business rates holiday, have helped give employers the lifeline they needed to survive. We know from recent history that hospitality has the economic clout to be in the vanguard of economic recovery once the crisis has passed, but only if essential support is extended.
“A wide-ranging package of financial support will give hospitality businesses the best chance of not just surviving the remainder of the crisis, but leading the UK’s economic recovery in the years ahead. If we get what we need, hospitality can spearhead the economic recovery of the country, revive high streets and provide employment and investment in every single region.”
UKHospitality's demands come a day after the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) called on the Government to announce extensions to business support measures in order to ensure the survival of firms until the economy reopens.